I’m Not Making This Up

09-21

This post is about makeup—actually, about the fact that I don’t wear any, and why. Thus, the punny title. =P

For the past five years, I haven’t worn makeup on a daily basis. It all started on a retreat I went to with my church, when I realized a simple truth—I spent too much time looking in the mirror and worrying about my appearance, and not enough time looking at things that are more important and eternal. In a word, I was vain. That vanity also contributed to my low self-esteem.

I never was one to wear a lot of makeup, but I used to feel like I couldn’t go out in public without concealer and mascara. I felt like my face alone just wasn’t enough to be considered pretty, and I also felt like being pretty was really important. The day I realized that I felt these things, and that I didn’t like feeling them, was the day that I decided to stop wearing makeup. I decided that I wouldn’t start wearing makeup again until I truly felt like I didn’t need it. Funnily enough, once I got to the place where I felt like I didn’t need it, I never felt the urge to start wearing it again regularly. And so, I’ve been makeup free for the past five years. And it’s great!

One of the things I love about not wearing makeup is that it’s easy. It takes me about 10 minutes to get ready in the morning (along with not wearing makeup, I also have a minimalist wardrobe consisting only of clothes I like to wear, can wear, and do wear). I don’t have to spend a lot of time fussing over how I look, and I can spend that time doing things I enjoy instead. It also makes things easier because I never have to worry about my makeup smearing, or rubbing off on things, or running if my face gets wet. I’m free! It also makes it easier to wash my face because there’s no need to remove makeup first or take extra time to get it all off. Yet another benefit is that I spend almost no money on makeup, which could get expensive for some people.

Another thing I love about not wearing makeup is that I feel more confident and beautiful. I don’t feel like I’m hiding behind anything; it’s just me. If I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think I look good, or if somebody gives me a compliment on my appearance, I know that it’s because I am beautiful, not my makeup. But more importantly, I just don’t feel like it matters that much how I look. Yes, it’s important to feel good about your appearance, and it’s a good thing socially and professionally to look put-together and like you take care of yourself. For me, those things can be accomplished without makeup, and beyond that, I believe that appearances really aren’t that important because they don’t last, and they aren’t worth anything in the grand scheme of eternity. As corny as it sounds, I’d rather be beautiful on the inside than on the outside. And that attitude actually contributes to me feeling beautiful inside and out.

The third thing I love about not wearing makeup every day is that when I do wear makeup, it can make the occasion feel more special. One occasion that I always wear makeup for is my family’s annual photo shoot. I like to have photos where our outfits look cute and my hair and makeup is done. It’s not because I don’t like to be photographed without makeup, either. I have no problem with taking photos in my normal day-to-day style. But for our photo shoots, I enjoy doing something extra. I also wear makeup to parties sometimes, or occasionally if I just feel like it on any given day. It’s just something different and special, like deciding to wear a dress or a skirt and nice top instead of jeans and a comfy shirt.

I know that choosing to not wear makeup isn’t for everybody. And there’s nothing wrong with appreciating or pursuing beauty. For me, the problem was that beauty became too important, and I was pursuing it for the wrong reasons. I used makeup to make myself feel more beautiful, which made me feel more valuable. For a woman who feels beautiful with or without makeup, who wears it because it helps her to express herself, or who wears it to add beauty to the world, I think makeup is a wonderful thing. For a woman who wears makeup because she feels like she has to, or because she feels like her beauty makes her worth more, or because she wants people to be envious of her or lust after her, I would say that maybe makeup isn’t such a good thing. I used to be in that second category, but now I’m in the first, and I love how it feels.

I wonder how many women out there would be willing to challenge themselves to go without makeup? If it is a challenge for you, then maybe it’s one you need to take! For all the men out there, I hope you can appreciate the women in your life for the beauty that they exude, whether they’re wearing makeup or not; especially inner beauty, because inner beauty really is more fun to be around, anyway.

How to Get Through Hard Times

08-25

For the past six months, I had been doing a lot better in terms of depression. In fact, sometime around July I was feeling so good that I thought maybe I was done with depression completely. I was just about ready to proclaim that I was healed. But then, just when I started to feel free, it came back. It crept in slowly at first, until I one day realized I was in deep again.

I always have doubts about sharing these struggles with others, especially through a public forum like this. I worry that people will overreact, or react in ways that could hurt my feelings. But I also believe it’s important to be honest and real, and to share my feelings instead of hiding them. So that’s why I’m writing this today.

My depression is weird, in that it comes and goes on a daily or weekly basis. When I’m feeling bad, it may last for days or weeks, but almost never for a month straight or more than that. I might have a good week, then a bad week, then a good day, then a bad couple of days, and so on. It’s unpredictable. Another unique thing about it is that usually, I am able to function very normally even when I feel deeply depressed. I am good at hiding it, and I am able to keep it inside without letting it effect my behavior very noticeably. I suppose I’m fortunate that it doesn’t debilitate me, and I’m able to continue caring for Cody and our home.

Anyway, the couple of bouts I’ve had since my long stretch of feeling good have been caused by stress and boredom, two of my triggers. The summer where we live is extremely hot, and it keeps us indoors most days. There’s only so much to do indoors with a young toddler, so I have struggled with boredom and monotony. Cody is also going through a difficult developmental stage as he’s nearing age two, and he is likely struggling with boredom during the days as well, which makes him even more difficult. I’ve also been stressed about our new puppy’s behavioral problems, and juggling a lot of financial changes lately and having to rearrange our financial priorities. All of it together has caused me to feel pretty low.

There have been good days and weeks as well, this summer. There are days when I have activities to do, and social events, and quality time with my loved ones, and Cody’s mood is better, and I have more patience and creativity to offer him. Sometimes those days even turn into weeks that are enjoyable. And even when my weeks aren’t enjoyable, there are things that happen within them which I enjoy. My depression is not all-consuming, except perhaps for moments at a time. I still find joy even in the midst of depression.

I’ve written all of this to preface what I really wanted to share, which is my list called “How to Get Through Hard Times.” It’s a small list I made of five things that I find help me when I’m in the midst of a depression cycle. I think that these things could also help with other struggles that people experience.

  1. Notice the perfect moments.
  2. Thank God for the good, even if it’s only in moments at a time.
  3. Ask God for help in the bad moments.
  4. Declare victory over trials in Jesus’ name. Hold on to hope.
  5. Remember that THIS WILL PASS.

Noticing the perfect moments means that even when I’m stressed out and sad, I force myself to stop and see the good, because it’s still there. Even on days when Cody skips his nap, and I’ve looked at the clock a dozen times in the past hour only to find that only a single minute has somehow passed, and I don’t know how I will survive the day. Even on the days when I try to take Cody to the park, but he has a meltdown after five minutes and we have to turn around and go home. Even on the days when my puppy has had an accident, chewed through her collar, and barks every time I let her outside. Even on those days, there are good—even perfect—moments. I just need to remember to notice them. I’m talking about when I find myself enjoying a special moment with Cody, whether it’s laughing at his latest silly antic or getting a sweet snuggle or just being overwhelmed by my love for him as he falls asleep nursing. I’m also talking about the glorious moments of peace and quiet when he’s napping, moments of playing with Cody together with Cory, moments of enjoying the cooler evening weather on our family walks, and even moments of enjoying some delicious food or a special treat. It is so important to notice those good and perfect moments. Sometimes I will even say to myself, “this is a perfect moment,” and then just be in it.

I also need to remember to thank God for those perfect moments, and all of the good things in my life. Taking a moment to do that helps me to focus outside of the depressed feelings and focus more on the positive. No, that positive outlook doesn’t always last past “amen,” but it does do something good in my heart and in my relationship with God, and I have found that it helps me push on.

Asking God for help in the bad moments means that when I feel like I’m about to crack under the pressure, I pray for the Holy Spirit to intervene. It may be as small as saying “Jesus, help.” He knows what I mean, and what I need in that moment. Sometimes, the only way we can keep it together is through the strength of God, who is greater. Our strength isn’t always enough—and we aren’t called to be strong on our own anyway.

Declaring victory over my struggles in Jesus’ name… really for me, this just means that I cling on to the hope that Jesus is fighting for me and that he will win in the end, and that I will eventually overcome the difficulties that I’m facing through his victory. In fewer words, it means holding on to hope.

Lastly, and perhaps one of the most important for me, I need to remember that whatever hard time I’m going through will pass. Suffering is temporary. I will feel better at some point, Cody will become easier, I will find a solution, God will change my circumstance, or I will find that I can be joyful in midst of the challenge. If all else fails, I know that no suffering will exist in Heaven. And that’s eternity, y’all.

So that’s what I’m doing right now, working on doing those five things as much as possible. I know that this depression is not forever. I will get through it.